If you drew a spring turkey license and haven't received the tag in the mail, it could be because you haven't purchased a new general game and habitat license or combination license for the 2019-20 hunting seasons.

The general game and habitat license is required for pretty much all hunting of game species in North Dakota. This requirement became law in the 1960s, but the transition to electronic licensing and all-electronic applications now allows the North Dakota Game and Fish Department to verify that a lottery license holder also has the required general game license before sending the turkey, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, pronghorn or swan tag.

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For spring turkey hunters preparing for the upcoming opener April 13, there is a bit of a sense of urgency for securing the proper licenses in time for Game and Fish to get the tag out before the season opens.

For everyone else, now also is a good time for hunters and anglers to purchase their 2019-2020 licenses, as new licenses were required starting April 1.

Licenses can be purchased online at the Game and Fish Department website, www.gf.nd.gov. Once the license is processed, users will have the option to print a hard copy and/or download the license to a smart phone or mobile device, which is helpful when asked to show proof of license while hunting or fishing in rural areas that lack cellular service.

Licenses also can be purchased at more than 140 vendor locations throughout the state, or by calling (800) 406-6409. The Game and Fish website also has a listing of the retail vendor locations in the state.

The 2019-20 small game, fishing and furbearer licenses are effective through March 31, 2020.

Report whooping crane sightings

In other news, the Game and Fish Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have put out their annual call for people to report their sightings of whooping cranes. These endangered birds will migrate through North Dakota over the next few weeks.

Whooping cranes are bright white with black wing tips, which are visible only when the wings are outspread. In flight, they extend their long necks straight forward, while their long, slender legs extend out behind the tail.

Other white birds such as pelicans, snow geese, swans and egrets often are mistaken for whooping cranes.

Anyone sighting whoopers should not disturb them but record the date, time, location and the birds' activity. Observers also should look closely for and report colored bands, which may occur on one or both legs. Whooping cranes have been marked with colored leg bands to help determine their identity.

Whooping crane sightings should be reported to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offices at Lostwood, (701) 848-2466 or Long Lake, (701) 387-4397 national wildlife refuges; the state Game and Fish Department in Bismarck, (701) 328-6300, or to local game wardens across the state.

Reports help biologists locate important whooping crane habitat areas, monitor marked birds, determine survival and population numbers, and identify times and migration routes.